Cup; Royal Worcester; 1879; 955/37.2



About this object

The popular Willow pattern decorates this blue and white, transfer-printed porcelain tea cup made by Royal Worcester. The design features willow trees, pagoda-like buildings, and a bridge with figures standing on it. The cup has almost vertical sides and a small, circular handle with a scroll-shaped support underneath. The rim and handle are decorated with gold.

The cup forms a set along with a saucer and dessert plate.


Royal Worcester

Date Made


Place Made

Worcester, England

Medium and Materials


Inscription and Marks

Maker's mark on bottom of cup with date code 'P'


Height: 6.5 cm
Diameter: 6.5 cm

Subject and Association Keywords

Grant, Helen, d.1955

Subject and Association Description

Helen Grant (née Banks), wife of Alexander Grant, took this tea cup set into Mackenzie Country to Grays Hills Station. Alexander was a sheep farmer who was born in Stirling, Scotland and immigrated to New Zealand in 1860. The couple were married in 1878, and moved to Grays Hills Station in 1881. Prior to this Alexander owned Waikai Station in Southland. At Grays Hills, removed from town life, the set would have served as a reminder of and connection to polite society.

Over time, Alexander increased the size of the Grays Hills run to 60 000 acres. Although he sold part of it to his son James in 1911, he retained the original run until his death in 1919, after which it passed to James’ wife. Helen, meanwhile, retained the couple’s retirement home, Aigantighe, in Timaru until her death in 1955. It was then presented to the city for use as an art gallery and remains open today, over a century after it was built in 1904.

The Worcester Porcelain Company was founded in 1751 by a group of 15 partners led by surgeon Dr. John Wall. Quickly gaining a reputation for high-quality ornamental and table wares, the company received several royal warrants and thus became known from the mid-1800s as Royal Worcester. While still associated with quality, Royal Worcester now produces predominantly kitchen and table wares.

The Willow pattern, sometimes referred to as Blue Willow, was inspired by Chinese porcelain manufactured for export to Europe and is one of the most ubiquitous and recognizable patterns in English porcelain. Because nearly every English porcelain factory has produced its own version of this pattern, its exact origin is debated.

Object number


Copyright Licence  

Attribution - Non-commercial - No Derivatives (cc) Attribution - Non-commercial - No Derivatives (cc)

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